Robert Lewandowski wants to leave Bayern Munich this summer, but the striker still has a year’s contract in Munich. The club has the upper hand, says Christoph Schickhardt. The star lawyer explains why – and what sanction options there are.
AZ interview with Christoph Schickhardt: The 68-year-old is Germany’s most renowned sports lawyer. His mandates include numerous Bundesliga clubs.
AZ: Mr. Schickhardt, the Lewandowski cause threatens to escalate at FC Bayern. The player is desperate to move to FC Barcelona and is publicly putting the club under pressure. How should the bosses of the record champions deal with this situation from the point of view of a sports lawyer? Christoph Schickhardt: Actually, the labor law situation in this case is relatively simple: As you can hear, Mr. Lewandowski’s fixed-term employment contract still has a term until June 30, 2023 – and this contract is without a doubt valid before every German labor court and is therefore also to be fulfilled on both sides.
But it could be that the player is looking for ways – for example a strike – to force Bayern to sell him early. There have been enough similar cases in Germany but also in European football in the recent past.
Schickhardt: You know how the players work. I have often represented clubs in such cases and have therefore been calling for a consistent line at the clubs for years. I remember, for example, the case of Heiko Herrlich and his move from Borussia Mönchengladbach to Borussia Dortmund. That’s how it started. Or the former Dortmund player Ousmane Dembélé. The following applies to the clubs: attitude and strength. That pays off in the long run.
So what do you recommend specifically?
Schickhardt: The clubs must not allow the players to pick and choose what they want. As a club, I would say to the player: “You have an obligation to play here, you have an amazing contract with FC Bayern that the whole world envies you for. You wanted the contract up to this point and the salary is also an expression of that Run time. Now hold on. So do we.
Also: Let’s look at the opposite case, if the player were injured, suffering from Longcovid or just in the form of a slump, he would also insist on the performance of his contract by the club – and quite rightly so!
What sanctions would the club have if the player tried to go on strike?
Schickhardt: On the one hand, he can of course reduce his salary. In player contracts, there are certainly opportunities to impose effective sanctions.
In view of the enormous salaries in top European football, it is questionable whether players will be seriously impressed by such a measure.
Schickhardt: The club can also put the player in the stands. No professional likes that in the long run. Because the player wants to play, wants to show off, possibly wants to play at a World Cup and of course he needs match practice for that. Anyone who has such a break of a few months in mind will also fall through the cracks at the other clubs. That would be an investment in credibility for the club.
My advice to clubs is always to accept sporting and financial disadvantages when in doubt. Because they do something good for the club in the long term because the other players realize that it doesn’t work that way. All players are now watching closely. In this club and with others. Respect grows as a consequence.
In any normal employment relationship, the employer would fire the employee in such a case. That doesn’t work in professional football: FC Bayern would be doing Robert Lewandowski a favor with early termination.
Schickhardt: That’s right. But one has to say at this point: Nothing has happened so far and I simply assume that Mr. Lewandowski is a decent employee and a fantastic athlete and is fulfilling his contract.
In addition, in such a case, all the alarm bells should go off at the receiving club, because I have to assume that the player could then try something like that with me in the future. Such a player does not “impoverish” at FC Bayern and there is nothing better in terms of sport. The pity of having to stay at Bayern Munich is probably very limited.
Since the cases have increased recently: have the clubs already reacted and had appropriate “strike clauses” built into the player contracts?
Schickhardt: No, there is no such thing. But let’s think about the case of Filip Kostic from Eintracht Frankfurt (wanted to go on strike with Lazio Rome before the last season, editor’s note). The club was consistent. This super player then immediately dropped the flag and gave the best performance – out of his own interest. Now he has become an international star with Eintracht and has done everything right.
He could only achieve that at Eintracht and with this team. Because he wants to offer himself, because he wants to play, because he wants to celebrate great triumphs like now with the Europa League victory. In such cases, the players usually look for the club’s current weakness and if this weakness doesn’t exist, they quickly find their place again.
This article was written by Krischan Kaufmann
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The original of this article “Put Lewandowski on the grandstand: Star lawyer considers extreme Bavarian measures possible” comes from the evening newspaper.